Council upholds zoning decision at Donner Lake
Truckee Town Council left the door open for future construction of second residential units in the Lakeview Subdivision, voting 3-1 Feb. 19 to uphold Zoning Administrator Tony Lashbrook’s approval of a unit within a home on Donner Avenue.
Mayor Ron Florian and councilmen Don McCormack and Josh Susman voted to deny the appeal by neighbors of the second unit’s owner, while Councilman Robert Drake voted to uphold the appeal and overturn the zoning administrator’s action. Council member Maia Schneider was absent.
The council vote followed a two-hour appeal process in which the appellant, Calvin Boyes of Lakeview Subdivision, said the zoning administrator’s decision to approve the unit was based on inaccurate findings. Boyes said the subdivision’s infrastructure is not up to the increased population he said would come with second units.
“Both the roads and the public services in our area are so inadequate that they were simply left off the applications,” Boyes said. He contended the subdivision is so densely developed that there is no more room to support additional population.
“The minimum lot size now for a residential dwelling is 10,000 square feet,” Boyes said. “These are 5,000 square feet.” He also said the roads in the subdivision are only 12 feet wide and not suited for increased traffic.
“We were not given a fair and impartial hearing,” Boyes said. “We appeal to the town council to rectify this and give our evidence a fair and impartial hearing.”
Carl Baumsteiger, another longtime resident of the Lakeview Subdivision and a civil engineer, also testified to the inadequacy of the roads and infrastructure in the subdivision.
“There is not one single category in which the subdivision meets the current code,” Baumsteiger said. “But it is an old subdivision and perhaps it can’t be held to the same standards.” He cited numerous problems with drainage in the area, some of which he attributed to the large structures that have been built on small lots.
“We really need your help, but what we don’t need now is more density,” Baumsteiger said.
The property in question, owned by Carl Granger, is located on a hillside between Reed Avenue and Donner Avenue. The main floor of the home, where Granger resides, is located on level with Reed Avenue, while the second unit, built into the home, is on the hillside below Reed Avenue. Access to the apartment is provided via stairs which go up to Reed and down to Donner Avenue.
Boyes questioned the adequacy of the parking, because two spaces are required for the second unit and two for the Granger residence. He said there is only one space located on the downhill side of the unit on Donner Avenue, where the tenant parks, and that there are frequently two cars in that space, partially obstructing the road. The other parking space designated by the tenant is located on a platform on the Reed Avenue side of the house.
“If they block the roadway, they are subject to being cited,” Granger replied in his statements to council. “If anyone parks in such a way that they restrict access, they should be cited and towed.” Granger said he paid fees for water and sewer service to the unit, and that a road fee will also be collected by the Town of Truckee.
Lashbrook told the council the main issues raised by the appellants – roads, lot sizes and density, are not part of the considerations in approving projects in the Lakeview subdivision.
“Those standards are for news divisions of property,” Lashbrook said. “They do not affect old subdivisions, such as this one.” He said the zoning approval of Granger’s project was contingent on two parking places being plowed at all times, and on the agreement that the main house could only be used as a permanent residence or second home by Granger.
Before council deliberated on the matter, Councilman Don McCormack addressed the assembled citizens from the subdivisions.
“We have some longtime residents here who have made some heartfelt comments,” McCormack said. We thank you and will take them to heart.”
Drake, who voted to overturn the zoning commission approval of the unit, said he opposed it because the geography of the area deserved special consideration.
Florian, voting to deny the appeal, said he did so because the construction met all requirements, and because Truckee Public Works, Donner Lake Water, Truckee-Donner Public Utility District and the Truckee Fire Protection District.
“Mr. Granger has done what is required by the town,” Florian said.
Susman said he supported the zoning administrator’s decision, and that second units such as Granger’s provide a place for long-term renters who work in service jobs to live.
McCormack, while voting to deny the appeal, said the denial should make the actual zoning ordinances stronger. Legal counsel advised the town that a decision to overturn the zoning administrator’s decision would set precedent, while denying the appeal would not.
Council approves PAC setup
Town council members also approved the composition of the Project Area Committee which will represent residents and business owners in the Truckee Redevelopment Agency’s Project Area.
The council approved a motion that the committee be made up of two residential tenants, two business owners, two residence owners, one member from the Truckee-Donner Historical Society, one representative of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, one member from the Truckee-Donner Chamber of Commerce, a member from the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District and a member from a Latino organization.
Members of the PAC will be elected by members of the group they represent, in an election tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m., April 16, at Truckee Town Hall. Only people within the redevelopment area may vote in for PAC members. Residents who are eligible to vote in the PAC will be notified by mail.
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